MOVIE REVIEW – The revered action legends make a comeback, now alongside Hollywood’s reigning siren, Megan Fox. But the franchise seems to have lost some of its luster – and not even Fox’s scenes in a tight, braless white T-shirt can help. Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone gather new faces for an installment that proves to be rather underwhelming compared to its predecessors.
In this chapter of Expend4bles, the action pulsates with a vigor not seen in previous films. Still, the quintessential fighting methods retain a comforting old-world charm. The protagonists frequently resort to knives, whether for slashing throats or direct, fatal stabs. These frenetic bursts of violence define the character of the movie, yet they seem oddly reflective of the “John Wick” franchise’s signature. As a result, the original spirit of the Expend4bles saga – a convergence of the fading action titans of the Reagan era – seems to drift away, evoking a nostalgia for the long-gone ’80s.
Like a reality show with movie stars
The first two episodes boasted a solid cast, with a few guest stars like Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But by the third episode, new actors – Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson – had appeared, theoretically broadening the series’ popularity but diluting the original “Dirty Twelve” experience. In the new episode, “Sacrificial Four,” which revives the series after nearly a decade, the cast has become as chaotic as if we’d been thrown into an action-packed reality show. Megan Fox looks hot in the movie, of course, but it’s hard to understand what she’s doing in a group of “veteran action stars of the eighties and nineties”.
Jason Statham’s character, Lee Christmas, reconnects with his former girlfriend Gina (Megan Fox). When Christmas is kicked out of the Sacrificers team for misconduct, CIA agent Gina takes over – and as much as I like Megan Fox, she’s not very convincing in this role. There is also Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who is likable but reminds us that his movie career was never really successful.
Perfect Pair or Passed Prime?
The essence of the Expend4bles has always been Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham teaming up on screen. This time they meet in a bar where they beat up some giant gorilla-sized beasts. They then embark on a mission to stop Suarto (Iko Uwais), the mercenary terrorist who is trying to acquire nuclear detonators. A dramatic event unfolds during the mission that we won’t spoil, but apparently as a result, Christmas is kicked off the team for failing to capture the villain, as he made a sympathetic but mission-compromising decision. However, he doesn’t remain inactive: he teams up with Desha, a former Expend4ble (Tony Jaa), to sneak back into the team. Suarto has prepared a nuclear device and plans to detonate it to start World War III.
Decent action, but we’ve seen better
As for the movie’s action, it’s just passable. Director Scott Waugh manages to maintain a certain dynamic, but fails to add any unique flair. The plot follows a predictable path full of clichés. The sequences no longer exude the 80s vibe found in “Commando” or “Cobra”, separating the movie from the nostalgic trash feel that made the series so endearing. This installment feels more like 21st century fodder – where even the action is forgettable.
After watching “Expend4bles”, it seems that the action films are struggling to reinvent themselves with the same originality and verve as previous entries in the series. The lack of directorial panache, predictable story arcs, and lackluster interactions between the protagonists suggest that it may be time for the “Expend4bles” franchise to gracefully retire.
The performances of the actors are quite inconsistent, though they somewhat stand out amidst the generally very low quality of the film. Both Statham and Stallone prove that they still have the charisma and power we expect from them, while other actors don’t quite complement them well. The remainder of the cast portraying the Expend4bles commando team is rather bland, with the lowest point perhaps being Iko Uwais, who beyond being terribly mediocre, is also an exceedingly generic main antagonist. The visuals and action sequences remain of high quality but are no longer as memorable or unique as before.
All in all, Expend4bles doesn’t bring anything new to the genre and lacks the unique spark that made its predecessors so popular. Die-hard fans may still enjoy the familiar faces and a few captivating action set pieces, but the series’ old charm is conspicuously absent. A truly forgettable entry in a series that once defined the action movie landscape.